Dear Family and Friends,
Kesen-numa is a small coastal city in the northern part of Miyagi Prefecture. During the horrific time of the 03/11 disasters, it was famous for two things. First was the enormous tanker that the relentless waves heaved several kilometers inland.
The other was fires that raged for days on end. Needless to say, the devastation was horrendous. And unfortunately, rebuilding has been slow. But gradually in some areas progress is being made.
Even though the controversial tanker has been removed, tragic landmarks from that blistering time still dot the cityscape. One middle school, for example, has been left pretty much as it was.
And semi-collapsed buildings have merely been covered with plastic sheets. They have not yet been dismantled or repaired.
(two years ago) (now)
Much of the port area is empty lots.
In fact, a group called “Mori wa Umi no Koibito”, or “A Forest is the Ocean’s Lover”, has been working for a long time from that perspective. That organization’s mission, like that of OISCA and the Iwanuma government further south, is to plant trees.
To quote a friend’s e-mail, “Mr. Hatakeyama, an oyster cultivator, is the man in the center who is really the personality who started planting trees in the mountains for a good environment in the ocean and eventually good harvest of the oysters. His word “http://www.mori-umi.org/” has spread and become very popular nation-wide. He started this movement and his hidden agenda was to stop the government’s plan to build a dam 8km away from the sea, which would have influenced the quality of the sea water and given damage to the ocean environment and to the oyster cultivation. Eventually, the dam was not built because the movement of protecting the ocean environment by planting trees became so popular. He is now fighting to stop the high dyke after the tsunami.”
Also on the bright side, the port area is now filled with working boats and a few fish-packing enterprises.
There is also a small, but colorful temporary shopping complex. It consisted of teeny enterprises, selling seaweed and fish, local products and souvenirs.
I asked her if it was hard to move forward after her heart had been forced opened and wounded so deeply. “I’m still very sad,” she said thoughtfully. “But I remember the words of my grandparents when I was little. They died in the tsunami, but I can still hear what they said very clearly. ‘We Japanese have been through so much. And we never give up. It is essential to live anchored in the past, fully in the present, and never forgetting the promise of tomorrow.’”